21 Apr 2017

Shearing for Michael

From Country Life, 9:29 pm on 21 April 2017

Michael Herlihy's favourite colour was pink. The 20-year-old shearer would wear it in the shearing shed and to town.

"Yeah he sort of liked to stand out a wee bit ... and be the centre of attention," his brother Mark says.  

So it was fitting that shearers, rousies, family friends and neighbours wore a splash of pink to the Herlihy's Whangamomona woolshed for an event to raise money for suicide prevention.

Michael Herlihy died in January last year.

Michael was the youngest of eight children. He had five older brothers and two sisters.

"We probably picked the shearing thing because Michael, although he was the youngest, he was a very, very good shearer and he never got the chance to beat us because we just had a little bit of age on him but he was definitely going to be the best shearer in the family," Mark says.

Last month's 24-hour shearathon raised more than $21,000.

"If we can save a life or help save a life," says John Herlihy, Michael's father.

He says people need to ask for help.

"It was just out of the blue, you know. For anyone to admit they need help is probably a big thing, isn't it? Once they have asked for help people can help them, but they don't ask for help."

Full-time shearer Mark Herlihy says shearers have a reputation for working hard and playing hard and often don't open up when things are troubling them.

He says his brother's death has encouraged him to have conversations he wouldn't have had two years ago.

"Nowadays it's just keeping up with the times, isn't it? The world's changing. So you need to start thinking about what's best for everybody. And if coming out of our shell is a good thing, then I think that's what we all should be doing, talking about our emotions."


Lifeline: 0800 543 354
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 / 0508 TAUTOKO (24/7). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.
Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757 (24/7)
Samaritans: 0800 726 666 (24/7)
Youthline: 0800 376 633 (24/7) or free text 234 (8am-12am), or email talk@youthline.co.nz
What's Up: (online chat 7pm-10pm) or 0800 WHATSUP / 0800 9428 787 children's helpline (1pm-10pm weekdays, 3pm-10pm weekends)
Kidsline (ages 5-18): 0800 543 754 (24/7)
Rural Support Trust Helpline: 0800 787 254
Healthline: 0800 611 116
Rainbow Youth: 09) 376 4155